Monday, April 30, 2012

Dreams and Art

                                                             Art Card,  made of cut paper

I dreamed last night, a plethora of dreams.  I don't usually remember my dreams, but I remember the ones from last night.  There were several of them.  A warning dream, a joyful dream, a dream to try to make sense and understand.  Lots of dreams.

Often times my dreams take the form of a movie or TV show.  Sadly, when it is a TV show, it includes commercials and I can't fast forwrd them.

There are lots of theories about dreams.  Some folks think they are the brain's way of rearranging facts and ideas and taking out the garbage.  Others think that dreams are the subconscious, talking to us.  Some think that it is our higher selves, giving us hints and direction.   Some think they are messages from God or angels. Some think they are images of what was or will be or might be.  Some think they are true happenings, but perhaps in another dimension or understanding.  And sometimes, they may be messages from those who have gone on before.

I buy all of the explanations.  I think that sometimes it's cleaning out the trash and sometimes it's messages from loved ones.

And every once in a while, my dreams give me pictures to remember and to make into art.

I have several such dreams that I remember vividly, pictures that become themes that I do over and over again, in different media.  There is one involving purple leaves on a yellow background, another involving a dark place on a green lawn.  Sometimes they have private meanings for me, sometimes it is just the image itself that haunts me.

Below are a few examples of my work, done from dream images

cut paper

Wall hanging quilt


Wall hanging Quilt


I do think that each of us has a powerful inner vocabulary that speaks to us but to no one else.  Artists are lucky, because this vocabulary does not use words and artists don't always need words.  There is a private place in each of us where we keep dreams and ideas and it is populated by our dreaming and waking experiences, by our hopes, by our longings, and yes, by our fears.  We would do well to be cognoscente of it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Morry the teacher

I have written about Morry before, so this may be a little familiar to some of you, but I think it is worth repeating.

by byrd Tetzlaff

Take what you like and leave the rest

"You don't like this, Morry, Trust me, you really don't"

Morry was sitting on the windowsill, close but not actually on the forbidden kitchen counter top.   He twitched his nose and lowered his ears, just a bit.  He looked at me with skeptical eyes.  Then he blinked politely and turned   back to sniffing the air, just to see if there was something more interesting than Spinach and pasta in the bowl I was stirring.   
As with most cats, he would have preferred Tuna in the mix.

I decided that adding the tomatoes & mushrooms would best be done away from him, perhaps on the other side of the sink. 

This casserole would not be improved by kitty whiskers delicately feeling it.

Morry looked at me, not fooled in the slightest.  I swear one eyebrow was lifted.  Then he jumped down and walked disdainfully across the floor to his water dish, flicking his tail high in the air, orange fur crackling.

Morry and I have developed an unusual relationship.  He came to live with us when he was twelve years old.  Not all of our cats were kittens when they came to live with us, but so far, Morry has been the oldest when he arrived here. 

We know what happened.  The little old lady down the street died, and a few days later, Morry landed on our doorstep.  The new owners of  the house found Morry and threw him out.  A twelve year old cat, almost blind from small growths on his eyelids, probably never having been outside before in his life.  He certainly wasn't street wise. 

But he wasn't one to feel sorry for himself either
He moved on to our porch and stayed there for several months  (it was summer at the time).  He enjoyed watching the birds in our yard and watching Princess do the 'mighty hunter' bit. 

He did not move from the porch until it started to get cold, then he decided it was time to move in.  He circled the house until he found our cat door.  He entered and sat, surveying the room through half blinded eyes, but noble in his bearing.  

He had been thrown out like garbage, but he knew better. 

He knew he was not garbage. 

He walked up to me and jumped into my lap and started purring.  He didn't lie down, but sat straight up staring into my eyes informing me that he lived here now.

We took him into the vet and found he was already neutered (thank heavens!) and we got his eyes fixed.  Fortunately, the growths on his eyelids had not yet started to scar his corneas, so he could see just fine after the surgery. 

When he came back home, he informed a very unhappy Princess that she was no longer Top Cat, and made friends with Tammer and the scared little Skinchy Kitty. 

He simply ignored the dogs as being beneath his notice.

Now, five years later, he rules the roost quietly, with an iron claw, but with few spats or harsh words.  He is much thinner now,  his teeth are too bad to let him eat all he wants.  But otherwise his health is good.  And, for the most part, so is his disposition. 

Since Tammer is now gone, he has become the lap-cat of the house.  Princess spits at him once in a while, but nothing more serious.  Skinch occasionally sleeps with him and he is most gracious about sharing his space with her.

 And sometimes he lets me make a casserole in peace.

This casserole was for a special dinner with friends -- about fourteen people, crammed into a smallish room, amid several tables and much laughter.  Three or four generations gathered together for good food and good fellowship.

They let in my casserole because they like me, not my cooking. 

As I sat by one of my friends, I told her about Morry and how he helped with the cooking.  Then she told me about what was going on in her life.  She is an interesting person, who has seen much and is determined to be growthful.  She has started reading, late in life, finding that books can be good friends.  Her latest book talked about spiritual growth, and it was a topic which  was foremost in her mind.

"You know," she said, "This book tells me that when the student is ready, the teacher will come."  Then she went on and on about how she was trying to get ready for this person to arrive and teach her wisdom & enlightenment.   I thought about what she said for quite a few days afterwards and finally came to a conclusion:

Respectfully, I disagree.

I don't think that when the student is ready, the teacher will suddenly appear out of the blue, breathlessly eager to enlighten and teach.   I just don't see it that way at all.

It seems to me that teachers are all around us, all the time.  We don't have to wait for them to arrive, we only have to learn to open our eyes and recognize them  for who they are. 

Morry is a teacher. 

Brave under terrifying circumstances, he teaches me grace and respect.  When others said he was garbage, he merely turned his ears away: no sense to even listen to such talk.  He was less than 1/10th my weight and almost blind, yet he knew he had value and expected me to see it as well.

Skinch too, shy, scared, but willing to try to trust the new-comer (Morry), Skinch is my teacher.   And the bratty Princess Cat, even she is my teacher.

The little girl upstairs who smiles when she sees me, the grocery bagger who works long hours for little pay, the squirrels doing tight wire acts on  the phone lines, even the dandelion growing bravely in the crack in the sidewalk, all are my teachers.

My job is not to sit and wait for a teacher to arrive, but to learn to recognize them when they are being themselves.

I too, have things to teach.   All of us do.  We take turns.  From moment to moment, each of us is the student and each of us is the teacher. 

Morry lies curled up on the couch next to me as I type this last part.  He is snoring softly, a soothing sound, full of contentment.   Princess is sleeping too, carefully curled away from Morry so that he will not think he has won her over.    Skinch is in her cubby hole and the dogs are at my feet.  It is a peaceful night with so many teachers surrounding me.

May you recognize your teachers.
So Be It